We have to give out maximum, be it 45, 60, or 90 minutes. We play for Croatia against the finalists of the World Cup, every game must be like it is the last, Ivan Perišić told a press conference ahead of Croatia’s Nations League match against France in Paris.
Perišić has fond memories of the Stade de France as it is where he made his debut for Croatia back on March 29, 2011, in a friendly match that ended without goals in front of seventy thousand fans. Tonight, he will face France again in a replay of the World Cup Final in Russia, unfortunately, this time without fans.
“When you play for Croatia, it doesn’t matter who is on the other side, this match is special because it is the first against France after the Moscow final during which we dominated in the first half, but we, unfortunately, conceded two goals. We tried to change things in the second half, but it didn’t work. There is no rematch, this is a new game for me. There are a lot of new players on both sides, the French will play in a new system, so this is a completely different story. I hope that we will be ready, we have to give our best,” Perišić said, who is just getting back in shape after a tough end of the season with his club Bayern Munich.
“After the Champions League final, I only had seven days off, in general, neither of us is one hundred percent, but that should not be a reason not to get something positive out of these two games. We didn’t start the game against Portugal well, we didn’t stand well on the field, there wasn’t enough aggression, we didn’t even try to play, which is one of our best traits, we just kicked the ball… So there are a lot of things we need to fix and do better. We talked, we know where we went wrong, tomorrow is a new day, a new game and we are going to get something positive. Not even the French are one hundred percent, like, after all, most of the players, almost no one has played games. However, we have to give the maximum be it 45, 60 or 90 minutes. We are playing for Croatia against the finalists of the World Cup, every game must be like the last one for us.”
“The French are a football power and, regardless of the character of the match, they have a playing roster of about forty or fifty top players. Simply, whoever they put you don’t know where the greater danger will come from, and they also have a great coach and we will really have to be at a high level if we want to get a positive result.”
Coach Zlatko Dalić also talked about Perišić’s contribution to the play of the national team.
“Ivan is one of our most important players, a playmaker, this year he had a great season with Bayern, which he crowned by winning the Champions League. When there are not a few main players, Modrić, Rakitic and Vrsaljko, he is the one who, as captain, will be the main one on the field on our side. He said that he is not very well prepared, which is normal considering that he recently played in the Champions League final, but I expect him to be the leader of the team, to get a new impetus with him and to raise the level of our game compared to the game against Portugal,” says Dalic, who is aware of the fact that the team failed in Porto.
“We suffered a very difficult and painful defeat that we absolutely deserved. There were a lot of bad things, it was not a game at the level of the Croatian national team, but we must understand that it is the beginning of the season, that there are a lot of new players in the national team. After all, our goal is the European Championship, we have to make a selection of players through these matches and try to find what is best. This is not the same team that played in the World Cup in Russia, which is normal, we had to make a slight change of generations. I repeat we were not good in Porto, the physical condition of the players is not at the level, there was not enough energy and aggression, we simply overslept the game. We will make some changes in the team because some players who played first cannot play another strong game in three days. We will have to change the way we play and approach, we have to be much more responsible, there has to be a lot more discipline in our game. Anyway, I expect a better match than in Portugal. I have tremendous respect for the French world champions who have great players,” added Dalić.
Apart from Perišić starting ahead of most probably Josip Brekalo, Šime Vrsaljko looks likely to replace Tin Jedvaj, whilst Marcelo Brozović and Bruno Petković also are tipped to start.